Parents beg to keep kindergarten and camp

Six years ago, Mike Nelson, then assistant superintendent for the Enumclaw School District, was taking heat for proposing full-day kindergarten for every student in the district.

Six years ago, Mike Nelson, then assistant superintendent for the Enumclaw School District, was taking heat for proposing full-day kindergarten for every student in the district.

At a community forum March 24 to discuss the school district’s proposed $2 million in budget reductions, now-Superintendent Mike Nelson was faced with parents, some in tears, who don’t want to see all-day kindergarten reduced to a fee-based program.

“I’m incredible sorry I have to be standing here,” Nelson said of being the bearer of bad news. “I think it’s an incredible program. I never thought it would be on a reduction list.”

As parents shared stories of their kindergarten students reading and how their other children won’t have the same opportunity, Nelson explained how the program is funded with Initiative 728 money that the state is planning to take away from school districts as it faces its own billion-dollar deficit. It costs the district approximately $500,000 to run its full-day kindergarten program.

Parents said they were trying to decide whether to buck up and pay for full-day experience, which the district has set at $250 a month for the 10-month period from September through June, or praying their student will receive the same education in a half-time format.

Nelson said the key literacy component will continue in the half-day kindergarten program and Darla Wood Walters, who helped establish the full-day program, will arrive in May to present a means of squeezing the same curriculum into a half-day program and as Nelson said, “honor the integrity of the program.”

The half-day program will also change, with students in the classroom a half-day Monday through Thursday and a full-day, with dismissal at 2:30 p.m., every other Friday.

Nelson is encourage by the nearly 60 students who are registered for full-day kindergarten. The district will offer those programs at Westwood and Sunrise elementary schools and any elementary school in the district that can pull together 20 students.

Kindergarten wasn’t the only topic of discussion.

About 30 community members came to the meeting at the Enumclaw High School library to discuss the elimination of sixth-grade camp, the loss of staff positions, bigger class sizes and middle and high school athletics.

Nelson explained to the group that the state gives school districts approximately $5,000 per student. Enumclaw, which has lost about 100 students a year for the last decade, anticipates 100 fewer kids again in the fall.

In its peak years, Enumclaw registered 5,200 students. Administrators are hoping 4,000 enter its doors for the 2009-10 school year. At one time, Enumclaw High School was producing 350 graduates. Today’s kindergarten classes are entering at 270.

Southwood Elementary School, Nelson said, is the only school expected to be above student enrollment projections, and that is likely because Southwood is the only school with new housing growth within its boundaries.

He said if that were the only budget issue the district was facing, it would be covered with staff alignment changes that could make up the $350,000, but the state is not expected to fund much more.

There was disappointment among parents and students when the elimination of sixth-grade camp was announced. Camp, the district’s week-long, outdoor education program which takes kids to the Key Peninsula, has been a tradition for Enumclaw sixth-grade students for close to 40 years. Even with parents now paying up to $144 per student, the program costs the district $60,000.

Nelson was scheduled to meet with parents who are interested in researching other options, like fewer days or different sites, or fundraising proposals to keep the program running.

A gray area that concerned some parents is athletic programs at the middle and high school level. There could be reductions in those programs, but they haven’t been announced yet. Nelson said middle school and C-teams, along with the high school’s freshmen and sophomore programs, could be part of the budget reductions, or have an intramural look, as neighboring districts drop them in a cost-saving move. Nelson said a committee plans to meet after spring break to look at those options.

Reach Brenda Sexton at bsexton@courierherald.com or 360-802-8206.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@courierherald.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.courierherald.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 500 words or less.

More in News

Melissa Holt, recreation programmer at the Senior Activity Center, answers voicemails Tuesday morning from people hoping to get vaccinated on Sunday. Photo by Alex Bruell
Senior Center, St. Elizbeth partner up to administer vaccines to Plateau residents

Additionally, the Kent and Auburn vaccine sites have opened up to those 65 and older.

Here is my second stock photo attempt, just in time for tax season.  This one didn't require any expensive props either  but I did have to use my son's glue stick to hold the sheets together. Feel free to use this image, just link to www.SeniorLiving.Org
Large property tax hikes seen in Enumclaw, Buckley areas

Both cities saw a double-digit percentage jump in taxes.

Most of the council met in person on Feb. 22, with applicants for the two open seats on the council interviewing for those positions virtually. Pictured on the screen is Julie Johnson. Photo by Ray Miller-Still
Enumclaw council interviews 17 candidates for two open seats

The council will deliberate on their choices during the March 8 meeting.

Washington State Supreme Court Justices (back row, L-R) Raquel Montoya-Lewis, Sheryl Gordon McCloud, Mary I. Yu, G. Helen Whitener, (front row, L-R) Susan Owens, Charles W. Johnson, Steven C. Gonzalez, Barbara A. Madsen and Debra L. Stephens.
Justices strike down Washington state drug possession law

Police must stop arresting people for simple possession.

Enumclaw city hall
Mayor reviews 2020, looks to Enumclaw’s future

A recap of last week’s “State of the City” address.

In Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s reopening plan, which was announced Jan. 28, restaurants can reopen at a maximum 25% capacity and a limit of six people per table. Inslee recently announced all counties will be staying in Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan for the next several weeks. Pictured: People enjoy outdoor dining last summer in downtown Kent. Courtesy photo
Inslee: All of Washington to stay in Phase 2 for a few weeks

The governor issued a weekslong pause on regions moving backward, but has yet to outline a Phase 3.

Entrance to the Tukwila Library branch of the King County Library System. File photo
King County libraries will reopen in some cities for in-person services

Fall City, Kent libraries among six selected for partial reopening.

In a zipper merge, cars continue in their lanes and then take turns at the point where the lanes meet. (Koenb via Wikimedia Commons)
Do Washington drivers need to learn the zipper merge?

Legislators propose requiring zipper merge instruction in drivers education and in license test.

gavel and sounding block on desk
Renton man involved in Drainage District 5 scheme sentenced

Darrel N. Winston was given probation, home detention, and community service for his part in helping two Enumclaw residents allegedly steal $460,000 in local taxpayer dollars.

Most Read